Build momentum toward reaching your goals by simplifying your vision process.
How many times have you been asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” While it seems like a silly question when you are applying for an entry level job flipping burgers, or any job for that matter, it is one that can be helpful for your personal development. Where do you want to be in five years? Do you have a vision for your professional life trajectory? Hellen Keller was born both deaf and blind but refused to allow those major setbacks to define her. Her words and example are an inspiration as well as a kick in the butt when she says,
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Start with what isn’t.
If it isn’t enough that 2020 is trying to slap you in the face, you’ve just been called out by Hellen Keller. Before you despair, let us help you simplify your pursuit of a clear vision by ruling out those items that are not critical to being purpose driven. Having vision is not about seeing the future. You are not required to be a fortune teller or a practicing daytime television psychic in order to have vision for your future. We are enamored with the false idea that only the special can thrive. Do not buy into the concept that in order to be an effective leader you have to also be a seer of the unknown.
Do you heap pressures upon yourself by believing it is your job to think about what will change in the coming year so that you can seize upon those opportunities? By contrast, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos finds it helpful to ask, “What won’t change.” He knows that customers will always want lower prices, wider selection and faster delivery. These expectations are a constant. Jeff knows he will never have a customer come to him and say, "Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher. I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly."
Change is a constant, adapt.
While it serves purpose well to ask yourself, what won’t change as opposed to worrying about what will change, this does not mean that we aren’t required to adapt. Jack Welch is viewed by many as the key figure in General Electric’s reportedly 4,000% growth during his tenure as CEO from 1981-2001. He speaks often on the importance of leaders creating clarity in vision, structuring the processes around purpose and seeing things through to completion. Two decades of sustained growth, leading teams through transitions from the 80’s to the 90’s and then into the new century, makes for some unique perspectives on growth.
Vision must be revisited regularly as the market evolves. As a leader you must lead yourself before you can lead your team as both you and the organization have to be prepared to adapt regularly. Even in a company as large as GE, Jack Welch understood the importance of continual growth, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Finding the means to clarify your vision in the midst of uncertainty is essential. Build upon a sense of purpose for yourself and help your team members to grasp theirs.
Eliminate the unsuccessful.
We have bought into the belief that in order to be prosperous we need to emulate the habits of the uber successful. Author Darius Foroux talks about meeting a wealthy (aka “successful”) person for the first time. In sharing this, Darius counters the idea of copying the rich, as the entrepreneur told him, “I just try to avoid being unsuccessful. Study what makes you unsuccessful, unhappy, broke, fat, stupid. Then, eliminate those things out of your life.” Simple but never easy. Turn your sights towards reducing wasted energy and transfer that to productive outputs.
It is important to establish your own purpose and to define your own goals. Your definition of success may be different from the next person, and it should be. If Jeff Bezos leads Amazon by asking, “What isn’t going to change,” you will also find value in asking yourself, “What have I been doing that is not bringing me closer to my vision and goals?” It takes time to develop broken thought patterns and bad habits, so it will also take time to create new routines. Recognizing the need to change is the first step in pursuing positive changes.
Simplify and make progress in the process.
With so much information at our disposal, it is important to remember that mastering the basics and building from that foundation is still a solid course towards growth. Bruce Lee had some great comments in this regard, “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” This imagery is excellent, we are in a fight to literally “hack away” those things which steal our focus and energy from gaining momentum in our pathway to success. You have limited time and energy, if you can direct those resources at useful endeavors you will win.
The key is to STOP doing what isn’t working.
With these perspectives you can start to simplify the path towards conquering your growth goals. Author and coach, Lex Sisney, recaps an effective strategy for coaching your employees that is apropo to leading oneself—the Stop-Start-Ideal approach. Lex says, “If we can first get clear on what old behaviors or mindsets need to stop, and actually stop them, by law that frees up energy and capacity to develop new mindsets and behaviors. If we don’t first stop the old behaviors, the inertia of the status quo will continue.” We are all too familiar with the allure and the consequences of the status quo. 2020 is a great year to operate from a place of clarity as we make progress in the process.
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer